Easter Monday racing brings us no less than nine race meetings, including the Irish National at Fairyhouse on an excellent days National Hunt racing on both sides of the Irish Sea.
We start on the flat at Redcar with the aptly named Be Lucky (2.10) taken to give punters the perfect start in the opener. Mick Easterby’s string have started the season in good heart and the Kylacchy filly looks well handicapped from her opening mark of 72.
She started life out chasing home Hughie Morrison’s 87 rated filly at Doncaster and put in similar efforts behind the likes of Flirtinaskirt and Hi Filwah thereafter. She looks a cut above the field for the five furlong handicap, from the plum draw in stall one.
Mick Appleby’s stable are on-fire at present, the yard excelling with horses gained from other yards and Brian Ellison’s former inmate Adili (2.45) has won and finished second in his two starts since his switch, indicating there is plenty of improvement to come.
There’s action from Market Rasen with Emma Lavelle’s Woodland Walk (2.20) taken to go one better than her runner-up spot last time out and take the mares’ three miles handicap hurdle.
She beat Henry Daly’s Kayfleur on her seasonal debut before thrown in at the deep end behind the likes of Blue Buttons and Tagrita in much stronger company. A second behind subsequent Cheltenham winner Polly Peachum looks strong form and Woodland Walk looks well handicapped from an unchanged mark of 114.
Daly’s Vice Et Vertu (1.30) is another exciting novice in the opener at Chepstow with Richard Johnson in the plate. The gelding was a scorer over course and distance in a warm maiden hurdle, beating Peter Bowen’s highly touted Regal Diamond in testing going in November.
The 5-y-o has since won at Carlisle from subsequent scorer Dark Dune before disappointing over longer trips at Catterick and Sandown and the return to two miles should see him in his best light, taken to defy a penalty in style.
A competitive mares’ hurdle has attracted the likes of Flementine, Molly’s a Dive and Pressies Girl however a chance can be taken on Rebecca Curtis’ Churchtown Love (2.05), who should be suited by South Wales’ forecasted better ground.
The Presenting mare was impressive on debut at Bangor before running too bad to be true on her next start here last month. The defeat of Venetia Williams’ Rosa Fleet looks strong form with the Curtis yard now in much fettle.
Hardly a difficult selection however Cocktails at Dawn (3.15) should be an easy winner of the handicap hurdle over two and a half miles, following up an impressive win at Kempton last week.
Nicky Henderson’s gelding was seen as good enough to take his chance in the Neptune Novices Hurdle at the Cheltenham festival and should coast home to success under a 7lb penalty with Andrew Tinkler in the plate.
Tinkler rides because Barry Geraghty is at Fairyhouse for the Irish National, for which he rides Shutthefrontdoor for Jonjo O’Neil. The trainer also has Alfie Sherrin in the race and is one of six for owner JP McManus and the weights headed by his 9-y-o Cantlow.
Tammys Hill was a game scorer of the Foxhunters at Cheltenham and has been backed into 9/1 favourite at the time of writing, with BetVictor paying FIVE PLACES on the race however Goonyella (5.00) is taken to give trainer Jim Dreaper a first win in the race, emulating father Tom, who won the race ten times a trainer.
The horse narrowly missed running at Aintree and that break could have served as a huge plus for the 7-y-o who is likely to be suited by the step up in trip and by Presenting, will appreciate the better ground.
He ran Cheltenham Festival hero Don Poli close at Clonmel in a G3 Novices’ Hurdle on his last start and was well backed for the Welsh National on his last start over fences; he has to go close receiving lumps of weight from the main protagonists.